網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

mestic, and forego a variety of enjoyments in which he used to indulge. He formerly led a life of insouciance; now he leads what may be called a hard life. He is borne down by the market prices, which, although cheap to the English, are ruinously dear to him. How could it be expected that he should like the people who have brought all this upon him, and who boast all the time of the benefits they are conferring on the country by spending their money in it?

The situation of a handful of English settlers is not less curious in reference to their relations with each other. The struggling pride, personal vanities, and class prejudices of the old country, are here to be seen as efflorescent upon the decayed offshoot as upon the original stock. Five hundred a year performs the rôle of aristocracy. They are in the last degree suspicious of each other. No one knows why his neighbor, just arrived, has set up his tent in this cheap district; but malice is fertile in suggestions. There are other reasons besides small means for going abroad, and it sometimes happens that a visit to the continent is merely a liberal extension of the rules of the Bench. Of course, if there be mystery in the case, people are not overcharitable in their constructions. Religion often forms a subject of contention for lack of something better to do. Unbeneficed clergymen occasionally speculate on these little communities, and the small profit to be gained by administering spiritual respectability to them is every now and then scrambled for like a beadleship. A conflict of this kind took place recently at Avranches, where the rival candidates carried their hostilities so far that they almost went to fisticuffs in the church!

ON THE DEATH OF MY INFANT CHILD.

From the Metropolitan.

A MOTHER'S kiss, O beauteous clay!

A mother's tear, receive:
Soon shall this perfect form decay,
Soon all resemblance melt away,
Of him for whom I grieve.
Upon that alabaster cheek,

(As fair, as firm, as cold!)
In vain do I those dimples seek,
Those charms, which to a mother speak,
In language manifold!

Upon that little icy hand

Receive another kiss!

Angel!... thou'st join'd the white-rob'd band,
Which round the Throne immortal stand,
In never-ceasing bliss.

THE FRENCH AT TAHITI-We have been furfrom a letter written by an officer of her Majesty's nished, says the Plymouth Times, with an extract ship Vindictive, under date of the 12th of March last, containing very important intelligence respecting the further proceedings of the French at the island of Tahiti, and the consequent departure thence of an English naval officer with despatches for our government at home. The following is the extract alluded to:-" Her Majesty's ship Vindictive, Tahiti, March 12, 1843. Since I last wrote on the 23th ult., the state of affairs here has much changed, and the intelligence is of such moment that Captain Nicholas is about to send off ActingLieutenant Williams in a schooner with despatches for our government. Lieutenant Little and Lieutenant Hill will go home in the schooner. They lish packet in the West Indies, and I think will will go to Panama, then overland to meet the Engreach England in ten weeks. The French have been at their old system of lying They have sent home a proclamation, stated to have been sent to the Tahitians, complaining of the manner in which the French have been treated by them, charging them with several violent and unjust acts, and demanding of them 10,000 dollars, or possession of the island, for security for their good behavior. Now this proclamation contained nothing but lies When we commenced this article, it was immediately refuted the contents. -was never made to the people, who would have It is made up our intention to have pursued the inquiry only for the purpose of blinding the eyes of Euthrough a variety of details, with an esperopean Powers. We have a French frigate here cial view to the recorded opinions of Eng- and a corvette. The French have a provisional lish travellers; but we have already occu- tricolored French in the upper corner. government, and hoist the Tahitian flag with the This flag is pied all the space that can be spared from still flying in a small island in the middle of the demands of a more pressing nature. Per- harbor, as well as at the government house on shore. haps we may return to the subject, for we We have, however, made a high flag-staff for our are confident that a searching examination flag, and hoisted it opposite the palace. The queen dined on board the Vindictive a few days ago, tointo the prejudices by which it has been gether with several chiefs and their wives. The hitherto tabooed will not be unproductive of table was spread on the after part of the quarter some utility. deck. She was received with a captain's guard, and saluted with 21 guns, both when she came and when she went away. The yards were manned, the officers were in full dress, and at night the ship was illuminated. We know not how long we shall continue here. I hope our ministry will not be entrapped by the French." The officer with the royal mail steamer Teviot, on the 4th of August, despatches alluded to arrived at Falmouth, by the and immediately proceeded to London.-Colonial Magazine.

But it may be asked why we undertake to expose these national weaknesses? We answer, because we would rather do it our selves than leave it to be done by others, and because we are not unwilling to show the world that our integrity and courage are superior to our vanity.

PLEASURES, OBJECTS, AND ADVANTAGES |from the meaner gifts of nature. The rents

OF LITERATURE INDICATED

From Fraser's Magazine,

and the ungracefulness of the common garment of humanity are covered, in some degree at least, by the beautiful girdle of

This article will be read with great interest. literature. -ED.

I. HUET complained, that while all the world had heard of the misfortunes of men of genius, no book had appeared to record their happiness.* If Huet were now living, he would not, perhaps, think it necessary to recall his complaint. It is perfectly fit that, in the journey of the pilgrim of literature, the lights should be marked as well as the shades; and that, if we recollect that the Glossary of Spelman was impeded by unsold copies, we should also remember the hours of absorbing delight which its compilation afforded to him. Leland mentions a Gothic library in an old castle of the Percys which was called Paradise; and the inscription over the great Egyptian library described it as the hospital for sick souls. Books are both flowers and

medicines; and it becomes every person to cultivate, with anxious patience and care, those habits of literary occupation and rational curiosity, which are so beneficently adapted to sweeten the vicissitudes of fortune, to impart dignity to active toil, and cheerfulness to sequestered leisure; this occupation and this curiosity being always kept subordinate to the great object and end of human life; i. e. moral and religious cultivation and purification. Thus associated and endeared to each other, LITERATURE will be seen under the wings of the Angel of Religion; and while the first engages the buoyant energies of our health or gilds the gloom of our sickness, the second will teach us to extract a sweeter honey from every flower, and will bring all the splendor and peace of a future life, to il luminate and tranquillize all the blackness and anarchy of the present.

II. Human life is one prolonged series of compensations.

"Great offices will have
Great talents, and God gives to every man
The virtue, temper, understanding, taste,
That lifts him into life, and lets him fall,
Just in the niche he was ordained to fill."t

Literature is one of the channels by which these compensations are supplied. In Homer, it is Minerva who conceals the wrinkles of Ulysses; so, among men, we observe wisdom covering the defects of the body, and education imparting a charm to the intellect, which turns the eye aside

* Huetiana, p. 163. 1770. + Task, b. iv.

III. Bishop Burnet, among the hints which he specifies towards the formation of an idea of God, reckons the perception which we have of a desire to make other persons wiser or better.* "I felt," says Burns, "some strivings of ambition, but they were the blind gropings of Homer's Cyclop round the walls of his cell." Who would not rejoice to pour the sunshine upon those benighted eyes, to take the captive of ignorance by the hand, to lead him into the green landscapes of literature, to reflect his feelings in the clear waters of philosophic streams, and, amid all the lovely scenery of the imagination, to fill his mind with the sublime assurance, that

"His presence, who made all so fair, perceived Makes all still fairer !"

It is pleasing to contemplate the effect of the first ray of light upon the understanding; to watch the leaps and lifet of thought with which the scholar welcomes it, and the glowing face of wonder, gratitude, and affection, which he turns to every ob|ject:

"By degrees, the mind Feels her young nerves dilate; the plastic powers

Labor for action."

Every fresh gleam of knowledge awakens an intenser sensation of pleasure. Petrarch, who was ignorant of Greek, received a copy of Homer from the Byzantine ambassador; he placed it by the side of Plato, and contemplated them both with admiration and enthusiasm.§ Aristotle distinguished the learned and the unlearned as the living and the dead; and the man, whom he supposed to be conducted into the world for the first time, from some subterranean cavern, when the sky was spangled with stars and the earth illuminated by their lustre, could not have been surprised into livelier feelings of awe and admiration than are felt by him who, led up from the dark recesses of ignorance into the pure air of civilized life, beholds all the luminaries. of genius shining in the remote world of literature.

IV. This light has, in our days, become as common as the sunshine upon the field.

* Exposition

art i.

t Burnet's Character of Bp. Boyle. Pleasures of Imagination, b. iii. § Fam. Lett. quoted by Gibbon. Fall, vi. 420. 1788.

Decline and

for once in his life, to depend solely on himself, docked of his lictors, for whatever amount of respect, or even attention, he can attract. This is a wholesome and healthy ordeal; very good for the moral as well as the biliary ducts. It sets a new and unexpected value upon whatever little. sense or self-reliance one may really possess, and makes a man understand his manhood better in a month than he could have done in twenty years through the mirage of a false position.

turn of life when the green leaf is beginning to get yellow and sickly, and be assured there is nothing like a plunge into new worlds of human faces for the recovery of youth, with all its giddy joys and airy fallacies.

But the difficulty is to get an Englishman to make this plunge in downright earnest. Instead of running wild amongst the people of the continent, and giving free vent to whatever youthful mirth has not been quite trampled out of him, he usually runs And no man abandons himself so utterly a muck at them. Instead of gambolling to the intoxication of this new and raptur- with them, he butts and horns them. He ous existence as an Englishman, if once he takes umbrage at every thing. It is imposallows himself to give way to it. He rush- sible to please him. He is resolved not to es at once to the opposite extreme. He be pleased, come what may. Shine or rain, chuckles and screams, like a boy out of it is all the same; he quarrels with every school, like a hound just released from the thing, simply because it is not English. It thong, bounding over fields and ditches, might be supposed he went on an expediand taking every thing at a leap, as if Beel- tion in search of England, he is so disconzebub were dancing mad at his heels. If tented at not finding England at every turn he is only sure that he is not observed, that of the road. It never occurs to him how nobody sees him-for this craven con- much enjoyment and instruction he loses sciousness, and fear of ridicule, haunt him by not trying to discover the points of muday and night-there is nothing too puerile, tual agreement: his whole labor is to dig nothing too gay or riotous for him. He is out the points of difference. He has not no longer forty or fifty, but rampant nine- the least glimmer of a conception how teen. The sudden enchantment sets him much the former overbalance the latter; beside himself; he is under the influence how much more there is to admire and imof a spell; no longer starched and tram- itate, than to censure and avoid; and how melled in frigid responsibilities, his joints much sound feeling and morality, practical begin to move with freedom and elasticity; virtue, and social goodness, there may be he is all eyes, legs, ears. With what curi- in common between people who scowl at osity he peers into shop-windows and ba- each other like frowning cliffs apart' upzaars; with what vivacity, wondering se- on questions of cookery and ventilation. cretly all the while at his miraculous acces- He delights in picking up vexations and sion of gusto, he criticises picture-galleries cross-purposes, and incidents that hint and museums; how vigorously he hunts through royal parks and palaces to collect gossip for the table d'hôte; how he climbs lofty steeples and boasts of his lungs; what mountains of ice he devours in the heat of the day; what torrents of lemonade gazeuse or Seltzer water he swallows; what a dinner he makes amidst a bewildering chaos of provocations; and how zealously he nourishes his emancipated enthusiasm with hock and claret, in the exquisite agony of a profound contempt for gout and indiges

tion.

Verily there is nothing under heaven so thoroughly English, as those things which are in the very grain of their nature the most thoroughly un-English: so unnatural is the slavery of our habitual self-suppression, so natural our disfranchisement: and of these extremes are we pieced. O ye who fold yourselves up in the coil of sour melancholy, like the fat weed that rots on Lethe's stream,' take heed at that critical

dislike;' and he snarls at them as a dog does at a bone, which, all unprofitable as it is, he takes a sort of surly pleasure in growling over. Every step he makes furnishes fresh excuses for grumbling and getting out of humor; and the only wonder is why he ever left home, and why he does not go back again without delay. There is nothing to eat (this is universal); the wines are vinegar; the lower classes wallow in dirt and superstition; the churches are hung all over with theatrical gewgaws; the people are eaten up by the priests; the stench of the towns is past endurance; the women are pert and affected, the men all folly and grimace; the few educated people are destitute of the dignity and reserve essential to the maintenance of rank and order; there is no distinction of persons; and one cannot go into a public company without having one's Teutonic delicacy offended by the levity and grossness of the conversation. It has been well

said of the English, that their forte is the disagreeable and repulsive.

hereditary dread of scattering and weaken. ing them. He has been brought up in the Is there nothing in England to provoke notion that a Jack of all trades is master of the acerbity of a foreigner, who should take none, and so he sticks to his last, and is pleasure in cataloguing annoyances and obstinately ignorant of every thing else. tantalizing himself with painful truths? This description of training makes capital Are we quite sure that we are exempt from mechanics; but you must not look for any public nuisances and social evils? Take a power of combination, any reasoning faculstranger into our manufacturing districts, ty, any capacity of comparison or generaliour mines and collieries, our great towns. zation, where the mind has been flattened Is there nothing there to move his compas- down and beaten into a single track. It is sion, to fill him with amazement and hor- this which, in a great degree, communiror? No wrong-doing, no oppression, no cates that air of gloom and reserve to the vice? On every side he is smitten to the English peasantry which strikes foreigners heart by the cruelties of our system; by so forcibly on their first coming amongst the hideous contrast of wealth and want, us. Nor is the matter much mended in the plethora and famine; a special class smoth-higher circles of society. An English conered up in luxuries, and a dense population verzatione is like the 'Dead March' in struggling wolfishly for the bare means of Saul.' Every body seems to have got insubsistence. Out of all this, drunkenness to a sort of funereal atmosphere; the deepunknown in his own midsummer clime- est solemnity sits in every face; and the glares upon him at every step. He hears whole affair looks as if it were got up for the cry of despair, the bitter imprecation, any imaginable purpose but that of social the blasphemous oath, as he passes through intercourse and enjoyment. No wonder a the packed and steaming streets. True, we stranger, accustomed to incessant variety, have fine shops and aristocratic houses, and bringing, by the force of habit, his enand macadamized roads, and paved cause- tire stock of spirits to bear upon the occaways and footpaths; but these things, and sion, should be chilled and petrified at a the tone of comfort they inspire, and the scene which presents such a perplexity to ease and prosperity they imply, only make his imagination. He may put up, as grace. the real misery, the corroding depravity, fully as he can, with being cheated and all the more palpable and harrowing. As overcharged and turned into ridicule for to priests-what becomes of our Church in his blunders at hotels and lodging houses; the comparison? To be sure our priests these are vulgar and sordid vices. But he never walk about the streets-they ride in looks for compensation and sympathy to their carriages: a symptom which is only the upper classes. Is he disappointed? He an aggravation of the disease. Nor are we is too much a man of the world, too intent so free from superstition as we would have upon making the best of every thing, too the world believe. It is not very long since enjoué, and too ready to appreciate and acSir William Courtenay_preached in East knowledge whatever is really praiseworthy Kent ; the followers of Johanna Southcote and agreeable, to annoy any body with his form a very thriving little sect; and witch- impressions. The contrast is marked-the es are still accredited in the north. For inference irresistible. credulity we might be matched against any contemporary country-witness our police reports, our joint-stock bubbles, our emigration schemes, and our patent medicines. Are we more enlightened as a nation than our neighbors? Do we treat men of letters with more regard? Is our population better instructed? Do you find anywhere in England, as you do in France and Germany, the poor way-side man acquainted with his local traditions, and proud of his great names in literature and history? All this sort of refinement is wanted our population is bred up in material necessities, and has neither leisure nor inclination for intellectual culture. The workman knows nothing beyond his work, and even locks up his faculties in it, from an instinctive and VOL. III. No. IV.

31

We are so apt to think every thing wrong which does not happen to square with our own usages, that we rarely make allowances for the difference of habits and modes of life. But it ought to be remembered that some national traits may jar with our customs, and yet harmonize perfectly with the general characteristics and necessities of others; and that many of the very traits we desiderate in them would be totally irreconcilable with the whole plan of their society-perhaps even with their climate, which frequently exercises an influence that cannot be averted over society itself. One of the things, for example, which most frets and chafes an Englishman of the common stamp is the eternal flutter of the continent. He cannot make

out how the people contrive to carry on the business of life, since they appear to be always engrossed in its pleasures. He is not content to 'take the goods the Gods provide,' but must needs know whether they are honestly come by. To him, the people seem to be perpetually flying from place to place, on the wing for fresh delights. It never occurs to him that he is making holiday himself; he only thinks it extraordinary that they should be doing the same thing. Yet a moment's reflection ought to show him that they must labor for their pleasure as we do; although they do not take their pleasure, as we do, with an air of labor. Pleasure is cheaper on the continent, as every thing else is, where people are not bowed down by an Old Man at their backs in the shape of a glorious National Debt.

few moments every chair is occupied. Cheap refuge against ennui, against the evil misgivings of solitude, the wear and tear of conventional hindrances to the free course of the animal spirits! Here are to be found every class, from the lord to the negociant; noblemen and commoners of the highest rank and their families; military, and civilians of all professions; and some of the resident élite of the locality, who occasionally prefer this mode of living to the dreary details and lonely pomp of a small household. From this usage, which we deprecate so much because it impinges upon our dignity and sullenness, a manifest advantage is gained in the practical education of men for any intercourse with general society to which they may be called. Nor is it of less value in conferring upon them that ease and self-possession and verThis lightness of the heart, joined to the satile command of topics, for which the lightness of the asmosphere, produces that people of the continent are so much more open-air festivity and community of enjoy- distinguished than our countrymen. ment which makes the heavy hypochondri- An implicit and somewhat audacious reacal man stare. He is used to think of tax-liance upon the virtues of money in carryes and easterly winds, and cannot under- ing a traveller through every difficulty, is stand how such crowds of people can go one of the foibles by which we are preout of doors to enjoy themselves. He eminently noted all over the world. Nor wonders they are so improvident of money are we content merely to depend upon the and rheumatism. Little does he suspect weight of our purses, but we must brandish how slight their acquaintance is with either, them ostentatiously in the faces of innkeepand how much satisfaction they have in ers and postilions, till we make them contheir cap and bells and their blue skies not-scious of our superiority, with the insultwithstanding! He goes to an hotel, and ing suggestion in addition, that we think petulantly orders dinner in a private room, them poor and venal enough to be ready to his sense of exclusiveness taking umbrage do any thing for hire. Of course we must at the indiscriminate crush of the salle à pay for our vanity and insolence; and acmanger below. Here again he is at fault. cordingly resentment in kind takes swingThe salle à manger is the absolute fashion ing toll out of us wherever we go. Milor of the place. It is the universal custom of Anglais is the sure mark for pillage and Europe. The Englishman alone cannot re- overcharge and mendacious servility; all concile himself to it. He sees a salon set of which he may thank himself for having out on a scale of such magnificence, that called into existence. We remember fallhe immediately begins to calculate the ex-ing in with a.. old gentleman at Liege sevpenditure, and jumps to a conclusion-al-eral years ago who had travelled all over ways estimating things by his own standard -that the speculation must be a dead loss. To be sure, that is no business of his, but he cannot help the instinct. Enter a salon of this description, and observe with what regal splendor it is appointed; brilliantly lighted up, painted, gilt, draperied with oriental pomp; a long table runs down the centre, perhaps two or three, laid out for dinner with excellent taste. You wonder by what magic the numerous company is to be brought together for which such an extensive accommodation is provided; presently a bell rings; it is followed, after an interval, by a second and a third peal; then the guests glide in noiselessly, and in a

Belgium and up the Rhine into Nassau, without knowing one word of any language except his own native English. His explanation of this curious dumb process to a group of his countrymen tickled the whole party amazingly. He thought you could travel anywhere, without knowing any language, if you had only plenty of money: he did not know what he had paid at Weisbaden, or anywhere else: his plan was to thrust his hand into his pocket, take it out again filled with sovereigns, and let them help themselves: he never could make out their bills, they were written in such a hieroglyphical hand: what of that? Rhino will carry you anywhere! (an exclamation

« 上一頁繼續 »